Ox-Head and Horse-Face

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Ox-Head and Horse-Face in the Hell Scroll at Nara National Museum

Ox-Head (simplified Chinese: 牛头; traditional Chinese: 牛頭; pinyin: niútóu; Wade–Giles: niu2-t'ou2) and Horse-Face (simplified Chinese: 马面; traditional Chinese: 馬面; pinyin: mǎmiàn; Wade–Giles: ma3-mien4) are two guardians or types of guardians of the Underworld in Chinese mythology. As indicated by their names, both have the bodies of men, but Ox-Head has the head of an ox while Horse-Face has the face of a horse. They are the first beings a dead soul encounters upon entering the Underworld; in many stories they directly escort the newly dead to the Underworld.

Chinese mythology[edit]

In the Chinese classical novel Journey to the West, Ox-Head and Horse-Face are sent to capture Sun Wukong, but he overpowers them and scares them away. He then breaks into the Underworld and crosses out the names of himself and his primate followers from the record of living souls, hence granting immortality to himself and his followers.

Japanese mythology[edit]

In Japanese mythology, Ox-Head and Horse-Face are known as "Gozu" and "Mezu" respectively.


Haw Par Villa 1, Dec 14.jpg Haw Par Villa 2, Dec 14.jpg 牛頭將軍.JPG 馬面將軍.JPG Fengdu Ghost City -4.JPG
Statue of Ox-Head at Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Statue of Horse-Face at Haw Par Villa, Singapore. Statue of Ox-Head in Taiwan. Statue of Horse-Face in Taiwan. Statue of Horse-face, Fengdu Ghost City

See also[edit]